Backlinks vs. Referring Domains – What’s The Difference?

In The SEO World, Backlinks And Referring Domains Mean Two Different Things - So In This Post I'll Tell You Exactly What That Is.
Backlinks vs Referring Domains

One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization is link building. The two go hand in hand to help increase traffic to a particular website.

When it comes to developing a link building strategy, there are two kinds of links that you will want to use. These are backlinks and referring domains, and while both can contribute to an increase in organic search traffic to your website, they are not the same thing.

You will find a combination of backlinks and referral domains being used across the internet as a way to share audiences, increase online traffic and improve search engine ranking.

In this guide, we are sharing the difference between referring domains and backlinks as well as explaining how these work in terms of SEO. If you want to increase traffic to your website, then this is the place to start, and both of these factors need to be considered for the best results.

Table of Contents

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks or inbound links use a hyperlink on another website that links directly back to your site, bringing people to a specific page.

Backlinks are a common site on any web page, and they can be a great tool for search engine optimization because it increases what is known as referral traffic. By directing an audience to a web page on your website, you will be essentially sharing audiences with this platform which in turn can increase the overall visitors to your website.

There are various forms of backlinks that you can use, as long as these websites link back to your page. It is common for one website to have multiple forms of hyperlinks, and you can generate backlinks with multiple sites as part of your SEO strategy.

Backlinks are one of the most important tools for SEO traffic, and they are a significant part of the Google search console factors.

With high-quality backlinks, not only will your site get more traffic, but you will also be deemed an authoritative domain which causes you to continuously rank high on search engine results pages.

Domain authority is something all search engines consider, and this is something you can demonstrate in your link building strategy, as long as you consider the other websites you work with carefully.

What Are Referring Domains?

Referring domains report the source of your referral traffic so you can see what other websites are linking back to your content.

As we have mentioned, inbound links are a vital aspect of optimization for search engines, and you need to have multiple backlinks in your content to rank highly in search results.

A referring domain is a site that is delivering the inbound links to your site and the cause of your referral traffic. A site may have two referring domains, for example, if it is referred to in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Referring domains can be used to determine whether your link building efforts are successful and which sites are the best to use for this.

What Is The Difference?

While both of these are tools to develop more organic search traffic to a particular website, backlinks and referring domains are not the same thing.

Backlinks are the way other websites refer to your work and direct their traffic, whereas referring domains show where this referral traffic is coming from in the first place. Your backlink profile is showcased by referring domains so you can see which sites are using one or more backlinks to your content.

Having a variety of backlinks from referral domains is a good thing for SEO as it gets you noticed. Backlinks are considered by the Google search console in terms of search result ranking, and the more external websites that link back to your content, the greater authority your domain is deemed to have.

This causes you to rise in the Google ranking and therefore gain more organic traffic.

It is because of this that backlinks, and with them referring domains, are two of the most essential significant factors to getting your website’s content noticed on the Google search console. There is a positive correlation between more links and more traffic, but this does not mean that you should fill your website with backlinks or use any website as a referral domain.

Are They Good For SEO?

Both backlinks and referring domains are significant factors for Google rankings.

Web pages that are referenced by more than one website are deemed to be authoritative and will therefore be ranked highly. Google ranks results based not only on relevancy but also authority which is something you can showcase with multiple backlinks to your content across the internet.

However, in order for these web pages to be seen positively by search engines, not only do you need unique referring domains every time but high-quality backlinks and referring domains throughout your content.

You cannot use the same domain every time, as the same referring domain does not show that you are a trustworthy source. Internal links coming from the same page or one referring domain can have a negative effect on your SEO and should be avoided at all costs.

This is why when working on SEO independently or with an SEO agency, you need to find backlinks coming from a range of unique websites. More referring domains means your website is deemed to be more of an authority and will therefore be ranked higher than if you were to just use one external website for this work.

However, although it is a good idea to have external links from various sources, you should not clog your web pages with backlinks and referring domains. A blog post, for example, that is filled with incoming links is not an easy read and this will have a negative effect on your SEO.

While backlinks are one of the most essential tools to getting noticed online, so is high-quality content, and this should not be affected by your link building strategy.

Search engines not only consider how many backlinks and referring domains report back to your website, but also the quality of these. Backlinks should only come from a referring domain authoritative to your sector or niche.

Authoritative referring domains from a site based in your sector are much more valuable than hundreds of backlinks from across the internet. When it comes to developing a backlink profile for your website, you should consider where the traffic will be coming from.

How Do They Benefit Your SEO?

Backlinks connect one target audience with another by referencing a web page on another external website. This can be done in various ways, including through a guest post, creating infographics to be used elsewhere, or sharing content on social media.

The main difference between referring domains vs. backlinks is the fact that backlinks send referral traffic to one website from another, and referring domains show where they have come from. You cannot get one without the other, and using referring domains allows you to check backlinks to your website, assessing where the traffic has come from and whether this is a smart move for SEO.

As we have mentioned, more backlinks do not always mean more success as you have to consider the quality of the linking domains you are working with.

The referring domain links report will show which site is going to drive referral traffic to your content using backlinks, and this can be used to determine whether it is a good move for your brand. While it is a good idea to have multiple backlinks and referring domains, you will be better off with a single referring domain if it comes from a top resource in your sector.

For example, it is best to have backlinks on top referring domains such as the Wall Street Journal than various referring domains across the internet that offer no value.

Referring to domains is the way to see what web page is being shared online through backlinks and where this new traffic to your website is coming from. You want to make sure that any referring domain you work with is quality and authoritative for the best results in terms of SEO.

High-quality referring domains are worth their weight in gold when it comes to SEO.

Usually, working with an SEO agency is the best way to ensure high-quality referring domains because these experts have connections across the internet and can offer valuable services to clients with this. When it comes to referring domains vs. backlinks, the main focus should be on the quality of the connections because this will benefit your business the most.


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